Yeah, that’s right. An arse.
An eager acquaintance who shares my interest in natural foods asked me the other day, “What do you do when you’re eating at a friend’s house? Do you ask where the meat and vegetables came from?”
Honestly, the notion of doing so absolutely smacked me in the brain and levered my jaw wide open, that’s how appalling I found it. Ask my host? When I’m a guest in his or her house? If the meat was pastured? If the produce has pesticides on it?
The short answer is “no.” The long answer is “Hell no.”
And I don’t spend even a moment worrying about that meal’s “larger impact,” either. I do the best I can with my food at home. I do the best I can with what I eat when dining out. But in no way do I let my dedication to eating a whole, natural diet impose upon my respect for my friends. Many of them do not eat the way I eat. Many have never intentionally purchased a piece of organic produce even once in their entire lives. To me, the idea of asking a host whether the meat was sourced carefully is just as uncomfortable as if one of my dinner guests were to put down his fork, give me an earnest, concerned look, and ooze, “Now, Gen, I’d really like to talk to you about Jesus.”
No. No you don’t.
It’s that personal. I make the food choices I make because I feel it contributes not only to my own personal health, but to the health and good of everyone. Alienation does not contribute to the health and good of everyone. Food snob evangelization does not make anyone better. It just makes you look like an asshole. It makes others uncomfortable to be around you. It causes them to associate the whole natural food/urban farming/organic blah blah blah movement with feelings of inferiority and shame. When you shame someone, they don’t want to listen to you. When you make someone feel inadequate, you do not effect positive change. This isn’t to say that you can’t talk about your lifestyle with others–of course you should. When the time and place are proper, and if said others seem interested. Otherwise, you’re beating a dead horse. A grass-fed, free-range horse that belches rainbows, sure. But a dead horse nonetheless.
Sure, I’d love it if all my friends felt the way I do about natural food. And I’m sure they’d love it if I didn’t de-pants myself at inopportune moments. Point is, we can’t always get what we want.
Your friends may start to cook and eat like you, eventually. They may not. THEY’RE STILL YOUR FRIENDS. Chances are, that means they contribute to your happiness in some way. Which means they’re awesome. And they don’t deserve asshole-ery. So when you find yourself tempted to say something about the meal they’ve so graciously served you, remember that you two have something in common. You both long for a world where a carrot doesn’t have to be called an “organic carrot” to imply its wholesome nature. It can just be a carrot. A world where we can all relax, pull up to the table, and be carrots–I mean–trust that our food is what it’s supposed to be. A world where we don’t have to talk about it.
But I’ve heard enough stories to know that I don’t speak for everyone on this front. So I’d like to hear from you–do you think it’s rude to popularize your foodie beliefs at your friend’s dinner table, or do you take the “loud and proud” approach? How do you think victims of food snobbery should respond when confronted?